Bed bugs are small, parasitic insects that feed off the blood of mammals and birds, typically at night. They are copper colored and wingless, but turn bright red as they feed.
Bed bugs are found in mattress seams, box springs, or in cracks and crevices near sleeping areas. As bed bugs cannot fly, they crawl or are carried by other animals, including humans. Common methods of transportation include hiding in luggage, clothes, mattresses and furniture.
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While the insects do not carry diseases, their bites will often leave a red, swollen welt that will itch. Scratching at these welts can cause infections. Not everyone who is bitten by bed bugs will develop these welts.
Detecting bed bugs can take some time if someone hasn’t been bitten. Dark fecal spots and light-brown sked skins are one way, but the best way is to remove linens from mattresses, dismantle furniture and frames and check in holes and crevices with a flashlight and magnifying glass.
If an infestation has occurred, thoroughly vacuum and wash all infested areas, including steam cleaning. A new mattress by also be necessary if the bed bugs have laid eggs. Spray approved insecticides along cracks and crevices and then sealing them if possible. If the infestation is sizable, contacting a pest control specialist is the best option.
For more on bed bugs, visit the CDC’s resource page on the insects.
(Text by Noel Kirkpatrick)